On the 9th of October, During Guide Dog week, Cllr Marco Cereste experienced what it is like to be blind or partially-sighted when he undertook the blindfold challenge in Peterborough city centre at around 3.30pm. Cllr Cereste was blindfolded and guided around the city centre to give him a first-hand experience of the hazards and difficulties that people with sight loss face when they walk through busy shopping centres. There are around 850 people registered with sight loss in the city and 36 working guide dogs for blind and partially-sighted people in Peterborough.

“Peterborough is a thriving city and I want to make sure it is a place that all our residents and visitors can enjoy. To fully appreciate the challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people when out and about, I wanted to take the blindfold challenge around our city centre and experience it for myself.” Cllr Marco Cereste

Cllr Cereste had to negotiate the obstacles and hazards blind or partially sighted people face on a day to day basis to maintain their right to independence.  At one point during the walk Cllr Cereste said “If I was blind I would be dead now”. Meeting with blind and partially sighted residents at the end of the walk, Mr Cereste asked for a wish list of areas for consideration and change to enhance Peterborough City Centre for all.

A list has been drawn up by a representative group of organisations (including PAB) and individuals who are blind and partially sighted  for consideration by Peterborough City Council. The main points raised were to increase awareness of the needs of blind and partially sighted people (including council staff, contractors for council work, taxi and bus drivers), meaningful consultation when new projects are planned and enforcement of existing byelaws to reduce the dangers of street clutter (and cycling or parking on pavements).

“We live in a visual world and for those of us with sight we can take moving about independently, freely and safely for granted. By inviting Peterborough City Council leader Marco Cereste to take on a blindfold challenge in Peterborough we are able to highlight issues and make lasting change and build knowledge and awareness of our Streets Ahead campaign. Cllr Cereste is helping to ‘Stand Out’ during Guide Dog week and raise the public awareness of cluttered streets.” Helen Sismore, community engagement at Guide Dogs East Anglia